Prim in my proper dress, I sat
seventh period, red-lining Latin roots: puer-puerile,
amo-amiable, rex-regalia. The anemic November sun
blanched the library’s tomes as Lincolnesque
Mr. Stollmeyer listed in, pale as parchment
the president has been shot, he said.
We placed our fingers over our mouths
as if testing for breath How will we tell
our students? It was the feast of St. Cecelia,
the patroness of music, a pewter harp in hand.
Forced to marry, she remained a virgin and converted
Valerian. Unwilling to worship Roman idols
she was thrown into a vat of boiling oil for burying
the bodies of believers rather than let the vultures peck
out their souls and dice their livers like dreck.
Unlike Jack, she escaped unscathed, sweet notes
floating from her throat like swallows. I wonder
if the witty, handsome Jack could sing, recite
his Latin declensions, say his evening prayers. Once,
racing, he cycled headlong into his brother
Joe, flew into the air, floated-until the whoosh, the blow
to the head, sharp and surprising and painful.
Relax, he told himself, twenty-eight stitches woven into his shock
of wheat-colored hair. Too late for stitches now.
His father told him he had the goods. My mother
always said no good comes to those who warm their hearth
by peddlin’ poteen. The siren of the fire engine
roaring by muffled the message on the loudspeaker.